[FOUNTAIN]Another war, more dissentIn the U.S. war against Iraq, the United States is facing the greatest anti-war sentiment in its history since the nightmarish days of Vietnam.
And one of the core strategists for this war is Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. secretary of defense who was a White House official in the Nixon administration during the Vietnam War. At that time, an incident now largely known as the Pentagon Papers broke out, which dealt a critical blow to the morality of the American government then heading the war in Vietnam.
The Pentagon Papers were a series of articles published in the New York Times in June 1971. The articles revealed classified government documents about the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Afraid of the enormous repercussions that the revelations would bring, the Nixon administration asked the media to not publish the Pentagon Papers. The American media, however, protested that the government was not the singular determiner to what constitutes national interests, thereby leading to a legal battle. The battle reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the government failed to provide a justifiable reason to ask the press to stop publication.
Making that victory for the press possible was Daniel Ellsberg. A Ph.D. in economics, Mr. Ellsberg was an analyst who had worked at the Rand Institute and the Department of Defense. He had leaked the papers to the press.
To this day, the courage and conscience of Mr. Ellsberg are recognized and lauded. While the American press acts as patriotic cheerleader in reporting the war in Iraq, many look to Mr. Ellsberg to offer objective advice on the truth and tragedy of a war.
Mr. Ellsberg is rising to the occasion, dripping acidic criticism at both the American media and the government. In a speech last fall he struck down the Bush administration’s policy. In recent interviews and writings, he has urged the press to dig at the truth, saying that if the public’s understanding of the reasons for and the results of the war are based on government releases, newspaper and magazine readers will inevitably be misled.
Mr. Ellsberg’s criticism of the press is not confined to the U.S. media. If members of the press do not make extra efforts to gather information and tips to verify government releases, and if they are complacent and comfort themselves by thinking they did better than others, they should be prepared to be called “pets rather than watchdogs.”
by Kim Seok-hwan
The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.